Grizzled Skipper - Pyrgus malvae

Scientific Name: Pyrgus malvae. The specific name implies that the caterpillars eat mallow, but this presumably comes from a mistaken idea, as the caterpillars eat wild strawberry.

English Name: Grizzled Skipper

French Name: Le Tacheté (='spotted'); l'Hespérie de la mauve (='mallow skipper')

5 Key Characters:
  • very small (forewings 11-13 mm)
  • upperside grey brown with numerous white rather square spots.
  • often a series of white spots running close to the edge of the hind wings.
  • underside mottled greyish yellow or greenish, sometimes brick red.
  • often encountered on dark damp soil, where it is well camouflaged.
Lookalikes: Red Underwing Skipper Spialia sertorius, which has a brighter, less mottled underside and less square looking white spots. Other Pyrgus spp, which are all rarer and have less white on the hind wings. Use Roger Gibbons Pyrgus Identification pages to separate this difficult genus. There is an illustrated key using the uppersides here and another using the undersides here.

Habitat: Unimproved grassland.

Flight Period: March-April-May-June-July-August-September-October.

Caterpillar: Green with dark head. May - September.

Host Plant: Cinquefoils Potentilla spp (P. hirta, Creeping Cinquefoil P. reptans, Spring Cinquefoil P. tabernaemontani, Tormentil P. erecta, Trailing Tormentil P. argentea) and other Rosaceae (Agrimony Agrimonia eupatoria, Wild Strawberry Fragaria vesca).

Status: Widespread and quite abundant, but seems to be in regression in the north and west. This is a common and conspicuous butterfly in the Touraine Loire Valley and Brenne.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:

Photographs numbered from left to right and top to bottom. 1-4 in our orchard, April.

Nectaring on Wild Oregano Origanum vulgaris.

Nectaring on Wild Oregano Origanum vulgaris.

Nectaring on Wild Oregano Origanum vulgaris.
Nectaring on Wild Oregano Origanum vulgaris (with a Gatekeeper Pyronia tithonus on the right).

Nectaring on Wild Oregano Origanum vulgaris.

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